The Best Gymnastics Mats For Acrobatic (Or Accident-Prone) Kids

Tumble, cheer, all the gear.

by Keri Pina and Lauren Beach
Originally Published: 
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Whether you have the next Simone Biles on your hands or a kid who will definitely never reach the Olympics but will likely become a local celebrity at your pediatrician’s office for Most Impressive Injury, investing in one of the best gymnastics mats for kids is a smart move. We all know that feeling of panic the first time we watch our LO attempt a backflip on a backyard trampoline, in a bouncy house, or off the couch. Let’s face it, your kids are going to do somersaults and cartwheels all over your house whether they are intentionally pursuing gymnastics or just pretending to be Batman, so you might as well throw down some extra padding to reduce your emergency room copays.

As a matter of fact, a kids' gymnastic mat or tumbling mat is a great piece of kid gear for any kind of indoor play. It’s also useful if you have a toddler who’s a new walker and/or needs more cushion than your typical baby play mat. Gym mats create a designated play space and provide an extra layer of cushion between your precious youngster and the hardwood floor. But not all mats are created equal, so there are a few things you’ll want to look for.

What is the best gymnastics mat to buy?

To avoiding pulling your back out, look for sturdy handles for easy transportation from basement to living room to yard and relatively lightweight, folding models that can be stored away with minimal effort. You’ll also want to look for covers that don’t absorb odors and are easy to clean — most models can be washed with soap and water if they gather any funky-feet smells. Another helpful feature for building larger tumbling areas is models that have Velcro to attach multiple units.

What is the best thickness for a gymnastics mat?

If your child is seriously into gymnastics and tumbling, it’s always best to ask their coach or instructor what the best type of mats and equipment to use (material and thickness) for their age and skillset to prevent rolled ankles and other injuries. Most mats run 2-inches thick, but there are a few that are thinner, making them easier to carry for travel, and some even roll up.

With that in mind, we rounded up the most highly rated options out there, and included info like material and thickness so you can choose the perfect mat for your child. Below are the best gymnastics mats, cheer mats, and tumbling mats for your little acrobat, as well as gymnastics gear to really round out the daredevil experience.

The Best Gymnastics Mats

The Best All-Around Folding Gymnastics Mat

With a four-panel foldable design and durable carrying handles, this portable mat features 2-inch thick high-density EPE foam that will cushion your little’s falls as they practice tumbling and cartwheels. The nontoxic, lead-free, non-absorbent vinyl washes clean with soap and water, so you don’t have to worry about sweat or dirt building up. The puncture-resistant cover is also water resistant, so sweat and spilled sippy cups won’t soak into the foam to create the gym-mat funk you remember from P.E. in your own childhood. Velcro on all sides of the mat give you options when creating a larger area by allowing you to connect more mats in any direction.

Helpful Review: “All my little one does is run around, climb on things and jump everywhere. This mat is perfect, its light, easy to move from room to room and folds up nicely when you want to put it away.”

Dimensions: 120 x 48 x 2 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 15 pounds | Material: Vinyl over EPE foam | Panels: 4-way fold

A Well-Sized Mat In A Kid-Friendly Pattern

If you’re a little tight on space, the Outroad Gymnastics Mat is slightly smaller than the mat above, but you still get the same thickness of high-density foam cushioning for those falls. The PU leather cover is waterproof and mildew resistant, with a thick zipper closure — all great features — but we love the bright pink and blue Jem and the Holograms color scheme most of all. The nontoxic mat can easily be cleaned with soap and water and Velcro on the ends allow you to attach this to a second mat for even longer somersaults.

Helpful Review: “We love this mat. My daughter loves to flip and do cart rolls. Having this mat has helped her get more active!!”

Dimensions: 96 x 48 x 2 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 13.2 pounds | Material: Polyurethane leather over EPE foam | Panels: 4-way fold

A Reviewer-Favorite Incline Mat That Comes In 3 Sizes

If your 3-to-5-year-old is ready to jump feet-first into gymnastics, this highly rated incline mat might be the ticket to effortless tumbles. It has handles for easy carrying and its compact dimensions mean it can easily be used indoors and is a breeze to move from room to room or to tote to a friend’s house. Velcro on the sides of this model allow you to combine it with other matching models. Just because it’s for smaller kids doesn’t mean it can’t handle rough play: It has an anti-tear vinyl surface and commercial-grade assembly. It comes in three kid-friendly color combinations to further customize your play area and it can be washed with soap and water. Love it but wish it was a little larger? There are medium and large versions too!

Helpful Review: “We love this incline mat! Once the mat was restocked we snagged it right away. The incline mats sell out fast, especially the fun colors. My 6 yr old soon to be 7 yr old is in cheer. We have practiced forward rolls, backward rolls, and handstands with this “cheese” mat. She has made tons of progress because of this mat. [...] This incline mat can be used for so many drills and is worth the buy!”

Dimensions: ‎34 x 24 x 14 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 12 pounds | Material: Vinyl over polyethelene foam core | Panels: 1

A Smaller Tumbling Mat For Younger Gymnasts

This fold-and-carry model is one of the best tumbling mats because it’s super easy to transport thanks to its handles and the fact that it’s so lightweight. Its more compact size means it’s easy to store and it’s great for mini tumblers who are finding their footing. It’s made accordingly strong to stand up to littles: It has a tear-resistant cover that can be wiped clean with soap and water. This mat features Velcro on all sides, allowing you to add on as your child’s moves and confidence in tumbling grow. It comes in six solid and multicolor options.

Helpful Review: “My 3 year old son loves this for rolling around and tumbling, play fights with his cousin, and to play cars on lol. Great quality for the money and super easy to move around from room to room.”

Dimensions: 72 x 48 x 2 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 7 pounds | Material: Vinyl over polyethelene foam | Panels: 4-way fold

An Easily Stored Folding Mat With Multiple Uses

This bubblegum-pink mat is a steal at this price and it is sized perfectly for tighter spaces — plus it can double as a yoga mat for you or sleep mat for guests. The Best Choice Products folding gym mat’s tri-fold design and minimal weight of only five pounds make it great for simple storage and it has carrying handles for easy transport. The PU leather is non-odor absorbent, so it won’t get stinky, either. Note that this model does not have velcro, so it cannot be attached to other mats. If your LO is more of a Batman fan than a princess fan, there’s also a black version as well.

Helpful Review: “My granddaughter is 5 years old and she takes gymnastics. She loves the mat. she practices all the time in it . sometimes she folds it and play with her Barbie's on the smooth surface.”

Dimensions: 72 x 24 x 2 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 5 pounds | Material: Polyurethane leather over EPE foam | Panels: 3-way fold

A Roll-Up Cheer Mat So They Can Practice Anywhere

This portable, purple, collapsible cheer mat comes in eight colors. It’s a better choice for older children because the carpeted top isn’t as easy to clean as other models and the foam isn’t quite as thick. If you need to create a larger practice space, you can purchase additional mats and join them together with an included Velcro strip. The feature that makes this one of the best cheer mats? When it’s time to break down, just roll up this bad boy and roll out.

Helpful Review: “This mat is perfect for practice at home. My daughter uses it all the time. She uses it in the basement ontop of carpet and it doesnt slide. Its thick too, so it gives her the support she was looking for. And its easy to put a way. Yhe price was well worth it.”

Dimensions: 72 x 36 x 1.4 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 11 pounds | Material: Needlepoint carpet top and polyethelene foam | Panels: 1

A Thinner Mat That’s Ultra Lightweight For Easy Travel

If you’re looking for something firm with slightly less thickness, this high-density EPE foam mat is has a tri-fold design and travel handles that makes packing up a breeze. The nontoxic, lead-free, puncture-resistant vinyl cover make this a perfect mat for tumble sessions in the park or backyard. Reviewers say it’s firm enough to offer stability while still providing cushioning on hard surfaces. The cover material is also moisture-resistant and can be wiped clean with soap and water. Note this model doesn’t have Velcro for attaching additional mats. It comes in four colors ranging from black to bright pink.

Helpful Review: “My kid loves this for somersaults in the living room. We no longer pull every cushion and pillow off of every available surface to cover our hardwoods. Well worth the price.”

Dimensions: 72 x 24 x 1.5 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 4.65 pounds | Material: Vinyl over EPE foam | Panels: 3-way fold

Best Gymnastics Equipment For Kids

The Sturdy Balance Beam That Folds In Half For Storage

This tear-resistant, medium-density foam balance beam is only 2.5 inches off the ground so it’s great for beginners or anyone who’s accident-prone. The beam itself is the same width as those used in competitions and it bevels to a wider base, making it extra stable for wobbly little ankles that are still developing skills. Reviewers mentioned the durability of the foam, saying it “was firm and holds its shape very well — even after a lot of weight is applied to it.” When they’re done practicing beam cartwheels, walkovers, handstands, and more, this easy-to-store balance beam folds in half for easy storage and it can be easily cleaned by wiping with soap and water.

Helpful Review: “My little and all the little’s that come over love this balance beam. It folds up pretty easy making it easy to store. The firmness is nice and is the same size as an actual balance beam at the gym. The price on this is amazing for such a good product. This doesn’t not slip and slide on the hardwood floor at all, it stays in place nicely.”

Dimensions: 55 x 6 x 8 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 3 pounds | Material: Vinyl over polyethelene foam | Panels: 1

A Professional-Style Adjustable Balance Beam

This rainbow-hued suede balance beam has two adjustable heights: floor mode and high mode, so your gymnast can incrementally build their skills from level one to seven while they practice at home. The length of this beam make it optimal for children under 10 years old and it is sturdy enough for handsprings, mounts and dismounts, and walkovers. The foam-wrapped solid wood core make it soft enough to practice without going flat over time and it sits on sturdy T-shaped steel support beams. This adjustable balance beam comes with a 1-year repair service guarantee.

Helpful Review: “Wonderful birthday gift. My granddaughter loved this!”

Dimensions: 72 x 4 x 7-23 inches (L x W x H; adjustable) | Item Weight: 28.4 pounds | Material: Foam-covered wood core beam and metal base

Fold-Flat Gymnastics Bars With Four Adjustable Heights

For children from 3 to 7 years old (and up to 160 pounds), this sturdy triangular structure is just the thing to get them cozy with kip bars. It folds up flat for storage and it has four adjustable heights ranging from just under 3-feet high to 4.5 feet that can be changed with easy spinning knobs. Non-slip rubber pads on the base keep it from sliding on hard surfaces. These kid-sized kip bars have more uses too: you can also attach a swing, climbing rope, or ladder to these sturdy bars for even more indoor fun (we see this being a great winter indoor activity.)

Helpful Review: “I have some friends with bars like these and they were unstable....this one is not! Very sturdy and wide enough to fit a mat over the [bars] on each end. No shaking, very solid, and very easy to raise or lower bars and to fold up to a smaller footprint. Very happy with purchase!”

Dimensions: ‎57.6 x 39.6 x 54 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 23 pounds | Material: Powder-coated steel

The Kip Bar & Mat Combo For An All-In-One, Kid-Friendly Gymnastics Set Up

For a full gymnastics experience, this commercial-quality kip bar and mat combo comes in all the color combos to match your home gym or playroom for children (or any adults) under 120 pounds. The bar is intended for gymnastic levels 3 to 4. The bars feature steel legs and a splinter-free fiberglass rail that adjusts between 36 and 58 inches to accommodate kids of all heights, and the foldable mat is covered with thick, high quality vinyl and made to protect against falls using high density foam. The pull-down weight limit is a whopping 300 pounds. The bars are quickly and easily assembled: there are only 10 bolts to tighten with a wrench. Rubber feet protect floors and keep the unit in place.

Dimensions: 72 x 48 x 2 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 65 pounds | Material: Bars: Steel and fiberglass, Mat: Vinyl and polyethelene foam | Panels: 4

The Octagonal Tumbler That Helps Kids Learn Fancy Moves — Safely

This kid-friendly octagonal tumbler is a great tool for gently teaching back walkovers, handsprings, flips, and splits for kids ages 5 to 8 years old who are ready to bend over backward (literally) for their favorite sport. It’s designed to be safe and kid-friendly, featuring a soft, high-density EPE pearl foam core and a waterproof, zip-off, easy-clean PVC cover. It also comes in a pink and purple color combination and the company offers a satisfaction guarantee.

Helpful Review: “Really nice quality and good size. My 8 year old loves this and uses it to help her practice back walk overs and flips.”

Dimensions: 27.8 x 21.5 x 24.4 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 15.4 pounds | Material: PU leather over EPE foam

These Greenguard-Certified Play Blocks For The Littlest Tumblers

This highly-rated set of gymnasium blocks is a great tool to help your mini-est tumbler develop muslce strength and early gross motor skills during creative play. The set includes five different shapes including a wedge, semi circle, rectangular box, and cylinder with textured, non-skid bottoms to keep them firmly in place. The pieces can be moved separately to create different challenges and they’re lightweight enough for your child to rearrange for different play set-ups. The vegan leather can be wiped for clean up and the CertiPUR-US foam is Greenguard Gold certified for low VOCs and CPSIA lead and phthalate compliant. It also comes in earth tones.

Helpful Review: “This was definitely an investment that I am so glad I ended up getting! My daughter, at 10months, has learned how to get on and off the couch safely with these blocks. [...] She plays with these daily, and even after 3 months, they still look new! Very easy to clean at the end of a play date or after all that drool from teething. [My husband and I] have sat on these before and they come back to their original shape in about a minute! [...] Everyone that has seen these at my house comments about how cool they are and how they now want ones like these for their kiddos. I know this is the perfect play set that she will grow with, I only wish I got it even a bit earlier!”

Dimensions: 56 x 32 x 16 inches (L x W x H) | Item Weight: 8.6 pounds | Material: Vegan leather and polyurethane foam | Pieces: 5

Also Nice: A Sparkly Leotard For Practice & Play

You’ll get major My Little Pony vibes with this shimmery one-piece leotard leotard, which is perfect for competition but inexpensive enough to use during play or practice time, too. Hand washing is recommended by the manufacturer for the polyester-and-spandex fabric blend, but most reviewers note they machine wash and hang to air dry and the fabric has held up well. It comes in 14 different colors and also comes in sleeveless versions.

Helpful Review: “So cute and sparkly and fit just right. Sizes are spot on, high quality material and good stitching. Will buy again. It made our unicorn very happy.”

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